Coventry's successful bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate the history of the city and in particular the lives of those who have lived there in the past. The Coventry Lives project has been formed to make this happen. Its aim is to remind Coventry citizens of the city's rich heritage; engage them in researching it; and inform (virtual as well as real) visitors. Coventry Lives will produce a people's history of the city, co-curated by the university and the community.
A web platform will be created to host mini-biographies mapped to physical locations. This will then be used as a virtual guide by visitors and residents of all ages. Ideally there will also be physical markers in the city to show significant locations of earlier inhabitants, and these will alert visitors to digital information.
The aim is not to just to present figures from the recent past but to include lives from the medieval and early modern periods, to increase consciousness about the depth of the city’s history. To do so, the project will mine some of the riches of local archival holdings as well as conduct a major new oral history project. A key feature of the project is to engage the local community in helping to compile their own history and co-creating the content, and hence also to explore how best the university can work with community groups and citizens.
We hope to commence the project at the end of 2020 - we have applied for funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council but won't hear the outcome until late this year. As a taste of what is to come we have produced some sample biographies as well as a bibliographyof existing works which explore Coventry's history.
If you have any queries regarding the project, the project team, or would like to become involved in its activities please contact us at Coventrylives@warwick.ac.uk.
Muriel Hind, the first woman to own a motorbike and compete in races
Ira Alridge, manager of the Coventry Theatre